How was war with N. Korea averted in 1969?

North Korea shot down a US military spy plane over international waters in 1969 killing 31 Americans. Why did we not go to war with N. Korea then? Were we too deep into Vietnam? Were we too afraid of directly fighting the Soviets (assuming the USSR would have gone to war with us over an attack on N. Korea)? Was there ever an international court held for this case?

I can find a lot of information on the subject, but nothing about the aftermath.



The incident was part of an ongoing teapot tempest sometimes known as the “Second Korean War.” According to an article I read a few years back (MHQ? Military History?), it was an intentional escalation of border incidents on the part of Kim Il Sung in order to divert American troops from Vietnam (and maybe just as importantly, to keep ROK soldiers and Marines out of 'Nam–the VC were supposedly terrified of the Koreans). There were dozens of incidents along the DMZ in those years.

Here are some contemporary articles on the incident.

Nixon appeared to simply stop spy flights in the region. The escalated hostilities in the Peninsula may have prompted Nixon to avoid further confrontation while Vietnam was still in the process of hemorraging. But I’m sure a more thorough explanation awaits.